Kay Hardy Campbell

Traditional Folk Dances of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf

"The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music.
Bodies never lie." - Agnes De Mille

The Jawaahir Dance Company performs a women's Khaliji (Gulf) dance.
Choreographed by Kay Hardy Campbell to Halaa, a song by the Miami (Kuwaiti) Band.
Premiered at the Southern Theater, Minneapolis, MN in March, 2006
Photograph by Nicole LeCorgne

"I feel joy in my feet and light in my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this gift of dance!"
-Sara, from California, attendee at the Arab Dance Seminar, Los Angeles, 2012

"Thank you, Kay. I really enjoyed your energy, ideas and passion for women, music and dance!"
- Aleedra, from Roy, Washington, attendee at Oasis Dance Camp West, 2007

Folkloric Music and Dance: The Gulf and Saudi Arabia have a rich tradition of many varieties of folk song and dance. Women of these countries have their own traditional dances and songs, that they perform in groups to celebrate occasions such as weddings, school graduations and national holidays. Kay has written numerous articles about the folk music and folk dance of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. See Publications for a sample of her work.

For authentic video clips of Gulf women doing their traditional dances, see Kay's Blog.

In addition to writing about these arts, Kay teaches workshops, seminars and classes in the Gulf women's folkloric dances (Khaliji or Khaleeji dance) across the U.S. to women at dancer-sponsored events as well as at academic institutions including MIT, Agnes Scott College, Wellesley College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She has been the folkloric dance instructor at Oasis Dance Camp four times and is currently a faculty member of the Arab Dance Seminar.

While Kay doesn't perform these folk dances in public, she has coached and choreographed group dances for professional performers including Boston's Near East Dance Theatre, Libana and the Jawaahir Dance Company of Minneapolis. Known as a 'teacher's teacher, Kay teaches these dances to share the joyous celebrations of Arabian women's traditional culture with women in the West by letting them experience it firsthand through music and dance.

Kay's article from Habibi magazine, 1997, is an introduction to the folk dances of women in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. "Loosening Their Tresses".

Sara, CA - a participant in the November, 2012 Los Angeles Arab Dance Seminar writes,
"I wanted to tell you that I loved the material you shared. I did not know anything about the dance form, and was not expecting it to take hold of me the way it has. I love my khaliji and there are days where I could toss my hair all day! I feel joy in my feet and light in my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this gift of dance."

Alexis Knaub review of Kay's March, 2012 Khaliji dance workshop in her blog, "Undulations." You can link to her entire review here.
" Kay’s teaching and organization is phenomenal and comprehensive in a way I hadn’t seen before... In the Middle Eastern dance community, quite a few people talk about connecting to the music and cultural. The structure of this workshop accomplished this goal while keep things fun and moving. Besides the format, Kay (and drumming instructor Lisa Esperson) is warm, encouraging, patient, and fun. She is a phenomenally good teacher. I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend studying from her if you get a chance. If you get a chance to host her or take this workshop in this kind of format, I would have no hesitation in recommending it."

Suzanne Cuzio, Santa Cruz, CA, attendee at the 2006 Arab Dance Seminar
"I was so inspired by Kay Hardy Campbell's stories of the Saudi women's music ensembles and her own oud playing at the seminar, that I came back to CA, found an oud and a local teacher, and have since joined an Arabic music class and ensemble, which I performed with for the first time this summer. I can honestly say my life has taken a whole new direction that it never would have otherwise, because of the contacts I made and the knowledge I gained at that seminar." -

Left to Right: Percussionist Nicole LeCorgne and Kay Campbell play frame drum
for Cape Cod dancer Khadija, on the set of Khadija's Cape Cod community
television show, Transformations.

Recent and upcoming classes:

June 2 - 3, 2018 - Khaliji Dance Intensive with Kay Hardy Campbell Weekend workshop focused on folk dance, music and rhythms of the Arabian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, sponsored by Sanaa Dance in Montreal, QC. You can register at the facebook event link.

July 7 - 8 , 2018 - Yalla - Dance Folkloric! White River Junction, VT. Sponsored by Origins Folkloric Dance Company and Raq-on Dance Studio - Kay will be teaching a modern-style 'khaliji' pair dance. You can register at the facebook event page link.

November 2-4, 2018- Arab Dance Seminar - Los Angeles, CA, details at the website.

Please contact Kay if you are interested in a group class for women in Khaliji dance.